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View Full Version : Norton Commando Interstate Mk 11 a 1974



ELIMINATOR
21-03-07, 17:30
What do you know about these? Vaguely thinking about one. What should I look out for?

From what I've read, & correct me if I'm wrong.

It's non electric start, gearchange on the right:eek: 5 gallon tank, not sure if as std. it has vernier adjusment on the Isolastics.

cookie
21-03-07, 17:32
i rather fancy one myself, but it would need to be the small tank Roadster 'cos they look so sexy.

Clive
21-03-07, 17:57
What do you know about these? Vaguely thinking about one. What should I look out for?

From what I've read, & correct me if I'm wrong.

It's non electric start, gearchange on the right:eek: 5 gallon tank, not sure if as std. it has vernier adjusment on the Isolastics.

Watch out for Frame damage - ensure you check headstock is not twisted - try not to check this while on the mainstand.

Gearbox (layshaft) bearings - hopefully replaced a long time ago with roller type.

Probably shimmed Isolastic - try and check free-play and pull back gaiters to check not seized.

Check no damage to exhaust threads and locking tabs present.

Best if points have been replaced. Check coils are undamaged.

Visual inspection of wiring loom.

Check seals on brake caliper.

Difficult to check if primary drive chain is shagged.

My 74 roadster suffered from all of above at some stage in its life ;)

Schtum
21-03-07, 17:58
I'm a bit rusty on MkIIA. I had a MkIII. Wasn't the vernier adjustment of the Isolastics introduced with the MkIII..?

I'd imagine that every Commando on the planet has had the main bearings replaced by now so it should have a "Superblend" bottom end. Typical Norton engineering......fit barrel shaped rollers to allow the crank to flex.

As for the other stuff, yes you're correct. Again, the electric start, left foot gearchange and rear disc brake were introduced with the MkIII. By MkIIA, they'd become a bit wheezy and restricted. An early 750 is actually a more exciting ride.

Blackal
21-03-07, 18:44
Have a trawl through the Norton Owners Club:

Nortons'R'Us (http://www.nortonownersclub.org/)

They were (and still are) stunning bikes, but I don't think I could get used to the brake/gear anomaly (or kick-starts on a high compression engine :blast )

On the plus side:

a) The sound from the exhausts (more like a pipe for the engine to shout down)

b) The wiring loom can be drawn on the back of a fag packet.


Mate of mine has a Dunstall Norton from the US (apparently raced there) - starts every time :thumb2

Al :D

Rob Farmer
21-03-07, 18:50
One of my favourite bikes :cool:

I think the guys have pretty much summed it up. The gearbox bearing is quite strange when it's on its way out. The kickstart slowly works its way down as you ride along :eek The 750 was the better engine but the frames/handling got better on the later bikes, apparently, the 850 motor only came about to suit the Yanks who wanted bigger cc engines :rolleyes:

There are some really badly fitted belt drive conversions, once fitted it's difficult to go back to chain.

Cracking bikes though. You will forgive them anything once you hear that exhaust, especially if its a well sorted 750 :cool:

cookie
21-03-07, 18:56
Classic Bike Commando "Dossier" here (http://www.classicbike.co.uk/pdf/618/217929.pdf)

everything you'll need to know i suspect :)

ELIMINATOR
21-03-07, 19:15
Thanks for the advice chaps, especially you Cookie, I've just read it all.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=270100895979&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT&ih=017

What do you think, lives in same town as me. I've got his number, I'll have a look at the weekend. Probably go beyond what I am prepared to pay,,, I think??????????

Current thoughts are that if I don't get on with it, I shouln't lose anything. Sounds like I'm trying to talk myself into it!

xbootie
21-03-07, 19:31
Must admit i have always fancied one too, either a mk2 or mk3, keep us updated as to what you get :thumb

ELIMINATOR
21-03-07, 20:01
NO NO NO.......IF IF IF :nenau

Schtum
21-03-07, 20:14
What do you think, lives in same town as me. I've got his number, I'll have a look at the weekend. Probably go beyond what I am prepared to pay,,, I think??????????


It's not original, if that matters. It's got an 18" rear rim instead of the original 19". It's also got a big disc brake on the front and the caliper doesn't look like the original Girling. It's been fitted with the US spec, or similar, handlebars. UK spec are a much nicer bend and even with those holding anything over a sustained 90 mph gets pretty tiring. Originally it would have been fitted with the annular discharge silencers with the large black caps in the centre of the outlet. It's been fitted with the earlier, 750 style, pea shooter reverse cone silencers. That used to be a desirable mod, I had them on my MkIII. I don't know how it's viewed nowadays.

alimey4u2
21-03-07, 20:16
Watch out for thin or pitted chrome on the fork stantions & wheels. Also; the clutch tended to slip after a while ( mine did. ) Nice bike for the year.....

Clive
21-03-07, 20:20
Probably go beyond what I am prepared to pay,,, I think??????????

I owned one in the early eighties as my only transport for several years. Kept it off the road for a couple of years and spent a fair amount of money and most of 1989 stripping it and rebuilding it with lots of new parts etc.
First proper trip after a few shakedown rides was getting to work Swindon to Reading - came off the M4 at Junction 12 - oh dear, the gearchange lever seems to have dropped off somewhere.
Second trip the seat retaining knob dropped off.
Third trip air filter rubbers split.
Got fecked right off and sold it for less than I'd paid for the rebuild etc
Lovely bikes but they are high maintenance. When not wearing my rose tints I'd have to be paid to own one these days :eek:

Clive
21-03-07, 20:29
Circa 1982 - the year I first joined the RAC at Earls Court after limping the last 15 miles on one cylinder. Turned out one of the choke slides had broken in half and had got sucked into the cylinder, rattled around for a bit then spat out in molten pieces - took one of the plugs with it.
Eh, I've got some stories about that Commando of mine.
Shame most of them involve breakdowns :rolleyes:

Clive
21-03-07, 20:33
If you do buy it - don't be tempted to attach a sidecar.

Eventually the downtube will snap away from the main spine :eek:

Steptoe
21-03-07, 22:21
They sound like a barrel of fun -

Bet the club don't have many ride outs .

cookie
21-03-07, 22:23
They sound like a barrel of fun -

Bet the club don't have many ride outs .


'kin lively technical section ;)

Steptoe
21-03-07, 22:28
'kin lively technical section ;)


And "Aftermath" section :augie

BAKERMAN
21-03-07, 22:40
you need to TOW A MAGNET

cookie
21-03-07, 23:09
you need to TOW A MAGNET

:hapybnce: not heard that one before :clap

boundless
21-03-07, 23:17
'Kickstart' by Douglas Rutherford.

Derring do and intrepid wheezes, using nothing but his wits and a Norton Interstate, the hero plans the perfect heist.

The author came to be regarded as the Dick Francis of the motor racing world.

Brilliant book, better by far than anything Ian Fleming wrote.

Got me into bikes, indirectly.

Anybody else read it?

I'd buy it now, even at antique book prices, just to read again. (But not in German.)

Blackal
22-03-07, 04:03
'Kickstart' by Douglas Rutherford.

Derring do and intrepid wheezes, using nothing but his wits and a Norton Interstate, the hero plans the perfect heist.

The author came to be regarded as the Dick Francis of the motor racing world.

Brilliant book, better by far than anything Ian Fleming wrote.

Got me into bikes, indirectly.

Anybody else read it?

I'd buy it now, even at antique book prices, just to read again. (But not in German.)

Did he also have a Breitling watch? If so -I think I did read it a few decades ago.

Al :D

Rob Farmer
22-03-07, 07:14
:hapybnce: not heard that one before :clap

I am suprised given your penchant for old Guzzis :D

cookie
22-03-07, 08:32
I am suprised given your penchant for old Guzzis :D

things don't fall off guzzis. not much compared to british bikes anyway :)

MikeP
22-03-07, 09:06
If you do buy it - don't be tempted to attach a sidecar.

Eventually the downtube will snap away from the main spine :eek:Blimey Clive, you've shot-up in height since you had that combination!

Mind you I can see why you had to have the chair on it in those days what with your feet being so far from the ground and all.

ELIMINATOR
22-03-07, 17:43
things don't fall off guzzis. not much compared to british bikes anyway

Probably coz the electrics are so shite, they won't start:augie

cookie
22-03-07, 17:53
things don't fall off guzzis. not much compared to british bikes anyway

Probably coz the electrics are so shite, they won't start:augie

bosch or lucas?

let me think... :blast

ELIMINATOR
22-03-07, 17:56
Bosch on 1974 Guzzis:confused:


sorry, i accidentally splatted your post, above is all that's left. cookie :o

cookie
22-03-07, 18:16
Bosch on 1974 Guzzis:confused:




short answer is bosch charging and starting was fitted post *about* 71. points etc. were still marelli.

no ones ever owned up to making the switchgear AFAIK :P

ELIMINATOR
22-03-07, 19:21
Just arranged a viewing on Saturday.

I have seen the front brake conversion on another mates bike. This was some work. The fork was milled out to accept a new caliper mount, welded up, fork internal bore trued. Seems to know what he's doing, sods law says that the more enthusiastic I get, the faster the price will rise.

Kaister
22-03-07, 20:33
I like that - its got the ádv'tank conversion :)

i've always preferred interstate tanks and its got all the right bits and mods done to it.

just check the forks have no play front to back and that the wheels are in line :thumb

Ash
23-03-07, 01:27
i had a brand new shiney mk111 in 1977.[not for long]
oh dear oh dear.:D
most bikes now running should be sorted if not the bits to make them reliable[cough] are easy to get.
a mate has two and has modernised them and has very little agro.

Ash
23-03-07, 01:28
They sound like a barrel of fun -

Bet the club don't have many ride outs .

they have tow in's:D

ELIMINATOR
24-03-07, 16:43
Just had a go on it. Gearbox was confusing, apart from brake & gear lever being opposite. I'd forgotten that the gears qwere 1 up, 3 down, made the ride..................interesting:augie

ELIMINATOR
24-03-07, 17:50
Just been offered a 750 roadster for 3,000. Same front brake conversion. How does the 750 compare to the 850?

Is the 850 an improvement on the earlier model?

alimey4u2
24-03-07, 17:56
In search of horsepower, Norton came up with the 850 (actually about 820ish cc) as the last highly tuned variant of the 750cc ("combat" motor) was very fragile....
Yes it was a better bike although let down by very poor chrome (as did they all)

ELIMINATOR
25-03-07, 12:34
Best thing about the 850 is that the max torque comes in at 3,000 as opposed to the 750 at 5,000 rpm. More mechanically sympathetic for an old bike.

Hew
25-03-07, 17:42
Think carefully what you want the bike for.
If it is the occasional bimble on a sunny day and to look pretty in the garage then a big Brit twin is the thing.
I have owned a T140 for 23 years. I bought it in a pile of bits as a 19 year old built it up and thrashed it mercilessly as a teenage boy would. I could live with the vibration but it broke brackets that were a 1/4 inch thick!. I have since rebuilt it and rode it for the first time in 15 years two years ago. Still breaks down like it used too and they are still caused by a previous bodges.:)
Have you though of a Moto Guzzi either S3 750 or the 850 Le Mans. These have the required looks and performance and in my opinion genuine continent crossing reliability. They also have the same type of feel/character that the Brit big twins have.
Whatever you buy make sure you take the time to check it properly as there are many poor bikes out there and they are priced the same as good ones.
Good luck:thumb2

Rob Farmer
25-03-07, 18:24
I prefer the 750 engine, they rev better and sound crisper. My ideal would be a 750 engine in the later 850 roadster chassis. You are probably far safer getting the latest bike going though. There were so many mods made over the years to improve them. My mates 750 combat is still going strong, it's been thrashed mercilously since the early 80s, apart from a gearbox bearing going its been no problem at all - the bloody thing was faster than my 1100GS :blast

Coolcarbon
25-03-07, 18:30
As Hew says, you need to consider what you want this Bike for...

I rode the 750 as well as both 850s with alternate gear change/brake pedals...for a living, it was interesting whilst we had both 850s on the fleet...:eek:

Covered 10s of thousands of miles on them but.........they were in the workshop virtually every week, mainly due to the the mileage and err, the hard life we gave them...:D

Snapped Chains and spokes in the rear wheel were not uncommon and the electrics were best described as weak..;)

When we got the 'Electric Start' 850...it only really managed to crack up that Empire State Building type stroke when the motor was warm, first start of the day always involved the kick start, assisted by the 'button'...:D

The brakes were absolutely average...the front pads could be worn out in a week if the weather was shyte and a lot of town riding was done, but they were only small round things and a single disc doing a lot of work...

I'd love to have one in my imaginary "Stable" but only for Sundays and High days...even my rose tints find it hard to blot out some of the negatives...:rolleyes:

The 750 with the 'Reverse Cone' silencers sound beauuuutiful...:D the 850s were tamed down considerably, noise wise...:(

Handling was predictable and surefooted...I had the lightest bike on the Group, wore away Fairing lowers, foot pegs etc. etc. even used to lift the rear wheel occasionally but the bike remained as predictable as a low tide...all this on Avon Roadrunners too...:eek:

And....remember those adverts, for the Commando as well as the T150...'Well 70s macho stuff....:cool

Schtum
25-03-07, 18:55
When we got the 'Electric Start' 850...it only really managed to crack up that Empire State Building type stroke when the motor was warm, first start of the day always involved the kick start, assisted by the 'button'...:D


Since we're in reminiscence mode...... I had the head on mine ported, fitted a 3S cam and 10.25:1 Omega pistons. I'm not sure that it actually made any difference to the performance and the porous head casting certainly didn't help. However, the high compression pistons ensured that I had to jump up and down on the kickstart and use the button every time.

This would be '77......

http://www.hondavfrclub.org/pics/meonthecommando1.JPG

Rob Farmer
25-03-07, 19:04
Wally Bradshaw, a retired Leicester bike cop, told me years ago that the best chase he was ever involved with was ona Police Commando, the chap he was chasing was also on one, they went half way round Leicestershire on back roads before the guy got away :)

Would this be one the adverts you mean CC?

Coolcarbon
25-03-07, 19:04
Not dissimilar to those Ads I mentioned....;)

All you needed there Mike, was the obligatory 'Bell bottomed' Totty on yer Pillion seat...with a fair bit of cleavage on show....those were the fantastically politically incorrect days.....bliss...:D

Coolcarbon
25-03-07, 19:06
Wally Bradshaw, a retired Leicester bike cop, told me years ago that the best chase he was ever involved with was ona Police Commando, the chap he was chasing was also on one, they went half way round Leicestershire on back roads before the guy got away :)

Would this be one the adverts you mean CC?

Damn, as I painted the word picture, you posted the real McCoy...Spot on...:thumb2

Rob Farmer
25-03-07, 19:06
I suspect it was more likely this one though ;)

Schtum
25-03-07, 19:11
All you needed there Mike, was the obligatory 'Bell bottomed' Totty on yer Pillion seat...with a fair bit of cleavage on show....those were the fantastically politically incorrect days.....bliss...:D

The Commando was good for ejecting said totty from the pillion. I remember a humpback bridge in East Lothian with the Commando in mid air and ex SWMBO with her arse a good six inches off the seat and the shout of "BASTARD" echoing behind me......:D

My Ducati single was actually a better pulling tool. A short ride on the pillion of that was pretty much guaranteed to get any girl out of her knickers. Must have been the vibration.....:)

Coolcarbon
25-03-07, 19:14
I suspect it was more likely this one though ;)

You cannae beat a decent pair of 'Double over head Knockers', not that the Commando had them of course,,,,:augie :D

ELIMINATOR
25-03-07, 19:15
Both bikes have had their engines rebuilt by the guy who owns the 850. He's well known around here as being a good mechanic, so I think I'm safe mechanically.

Just been to see the 750, it's a Mk 5:confused: Looks a lot better paint work wise, but it's the roadster. So the tank doesn't do it for me. It has a pair of very loud side silencers, mounted on the left. He said that these are the same as fitted to the Early Triumph Hurricane. I preferred the exhaust system on the 850.
Still don't really know why I want one:confused:

Regards Mr.:confused: :confused: :confused:

Coolcarbon
25-03-07, 19:16
My Ducati single was actually a better pulling tool. A short ride on the pillion of that was pretty much guaranteed to get any girl out of her knickers. Must have been the vibration.....:)

Nah, yer Boy-ish good looks and that Griffen Helmet more like....:D

Schtum
25-03-07, 19:35
It has a pair of very loud side silencers, mounted on the left.

That sounds like the pipes which were fitted to the 750S model.

http://www.dropbears.com/m/models/classic/images/norton/750s.jpg

ELIMINATOR
25-03-07, 19:42
This one doesn't have the cones on the ends, or the heatshields, also the exhaust pipes are a snugger fit together.

Also the 750 will have new swinging arm bushes, this involves fitting oversize bushes, and what looks like the swing arm "carrier plate?" being removed from the bike for this work to be done.

Hew,
I have the possible option of Guzzi T3. I do like the looks of the Guzzis, it's that engine layout, could always bend the heads on the GS?

Rob Farmer
25-03-07, 20:14
Still don't really know why I want one:confused:

Brit bikes aren't for the faint hearted. If you have any doubts don't bother. You have to be prepared to get your spanners out after almost every ride to tweak something. More than likely during the ride as well. The pleasure (:rolleyes: ) comes from knowing the bike inside out (literally). A well setup Commando is a great bike to ride but for every hour on the road there's probably been a couple in the garage. We used to spend hours wedged into sheds and garages taking the piss out of whoevers turn it was to skin their knuckles with a dodgy set of Whitworth spanners...not everybodies cup of tea.

Clive
25-03-07, 20:50
We used to spend hours wedged into sheds and garages
Sheds and Garages? You were lucky.

Rob Farmer
25-03-07, 21:05
Sheds and Garages? You were lucky.

I did my time under a sheet of plastic when It rained Clive. trying to set the magneto timing on a BSA A7 with wet fingers and a fag paper and me dads every ready pushbike light held in me teeth :rob

alimey4u2
25-03-07, 21:33
Brit bikes aren't for the faint hearted. If you have any doubts don't bother. You have to be prepared to get your spanners out after almost every ride to tweak something.

With all due respect I disagree.......
My Norton 850 Interstate never failed me, nor my Dommie 99 that I had before..... I totally rebuilt my 99 including a Wal Phillips "fuel injector" that I modified to work well ( yes.... even with changing fuel tank levels.)
My mechanical skills were (at the time) basic but I found it a simple motor to rebuild....:nenau

Schtum
25-03-07, 21:47
With all due respect I disagree.......
My Norton 850 Interstate never failed me, nor my Dommie 99 that I had before..... I totally rebuilt my 99 including a Wal Phillips "fuel injector" that I modified to work well ( yes.... even with changing fuel tank levels.)
My mechanical skills were (at the time) basic but I found it a simple motor to rebuild....:nenau

I'm impressed that you got one of those Wal Philips things to work. I had a friend who fitted MkII Amals to his 750 Commando and they were an improvement over the MkI version.

I take it that your Interstate was pre MkIII. I think I dismantled the primary drive on mine about twice a week on average because of the hydraulic chain tensioner which didn't....:rolleyes:

It's a shame that Kenny Dreer's company has collapsed. The born again Commando was a fine looking device.....

http://www.dennisyang.com/images/norton_950.jpg

alimey4u2
25-03-07, 21:54
I take it that your Interstate was pre MkIII. I think I dismantled the primary drive on mine about twice a week on average because of the hydraulic chain tensioner which didn't....:rolleyes:

An early 850 model fitted with "combat" ( reverse cone) silencers. In a prior post they were said to be quiet but in actuality there was a restrictor on the ends that could be simply removed. This mod ( in discussions with Andover ) opened them up together with the advice to remove the air filter..

Yup Kenny Dreer's bike was a sad loss but BMW's gain in my case......

Schtum
25-03-07, 22:15
An early 850 model fitted with "combat" ( reverse cone) silencers. In a prior post they were said to be quiet but in actuality there was a restrictor on the ends that could be simply removed.

Yes, I had the "peashooters" on mine but they were anything but quiet. I think mine were pattern ones as they didn't have an easily removed restrictor. In my case someone had taken a long steel rod and a hammer and had knocked them out. It really was a lovely noise. I used to revel in watching car drivers jump as I snuck up behind them and then whacked it open to overtake. :D

Cookson
26-03-07, 17:08
It's a shame that Kenny Dreer's company has collapsed. The born again Commando was a fine looking device.....

http://www.dennisyang.com/images/norton_950.jpg

Ooooh, I want one, where do I sign.

:bounce1 :bounce1

alimey4u2
26-03-07, 19:00
Ooooh, I want one, where do I sign.

:bounce1 :bounce1

Sadly, It didn't go into full production. Fair play to Mr Dreer, all those that placed deposits had a full refund......

Cookson
26-03-07, 19:04
Sadly, It didn't go into full production. Fair play to Mr Dreer, all those that placed deposits had a full refund......

:blast

What's the chances of it being re-born, again !!

If not, I know what my next projects going to be.

;)

ELIMINATOR
26-03-07, 20:32
The Interstate has just hit 3,000 with a day to go. So that's gone beyond what I was prepared to pay................already.

alimey4u2
26-03-07, 21:45
The Interstate has just hit £3,000 with a day to go. So that's gone beyond what I was prepared to pay................already.

It is common for today I'm afraid. Ex bikers who gave up the sport to bring up families, now having surplus cash to reminisce, have bumped prices across the board beyond the reach of some of those that have been stalwarts....:nenau
A discussion we are having on a classic bike site as we speak, is where will it all end....:nenau The trend will benefit but a few, alas at the loss of some of those that remained true....

Devon
27-03-07, 07:20
The Interstate has just hit £3,000 with a day to go. So that's gone beyond what I was prepared to pay................already.


It is common for today I'm afraid. Ex bikers who gave up the sport to bring up families, now having surplus cash to reminisce, have bumped prices across the board beyond the reach of some of those that have been stalwarts....:nenau
A discussion we are having on a classic bike site as we speak, is where will it all end....:nenau The trend will benefit but a few, alas at the loss of some of those that remained true....

But when you stop to consider, that at today's prices for instance, a new pair of 1200GS spoke wheels with discs and abs ring will set you back the best part of £1600 or an oversize tank for an HP2 is £1200 etc , surely a well sorted piece of british m/c history (arguably the best british twin of that era) £3000-ish is still good value?
Prices on good classic M/Cs can only go one way really. The Norton works out at the first year's deprecitiation of say a 1200GS.
I am not trying to justify bidding more than you intend to spend Eliminator :augie

alimey4u2
27-03-07, 09:50
But when you stop to consider, that at today's prices for instance, a new pair of 1200GS spoke wheels with discs and abs ring will set you back the best part of £1600 or an oversize tank for an HP2 is £1200 etc , surely a well sorted piece of british m/c history (arguably the best british twin of that era) £3000-ish is still good value?
Prices on good classic M/Cs can only go one way really. The Norton works out at the first year's deprecitiation of say a 1200GS.
I am not trying to justify bidding more than you intend to spend Eliminator :augie

Points to consider for sure.....:beerjug:

ELIMINATOR
27-03-07, 16:47
2 went yesterday, again on e bay, 1 for 3,300, the other for 3,800. So this one will probably go for more.

Makes the offer of the 750 roadster look a bit of a bargain.